“Natural.” It’s the latest craze sweeping labels. Everything wants to say it’s natural. What does that really mean? Take peanut butter. To me, “natural” peanut butter has nothing added to it other than what you need to make peanut butter. That would be roasted peanuts, period. Or if you like salted, roasted peanuts and salt. That’s it.
I typically get my PB from Trader Joe’s. I had also tried Kroger brand natural PB, which was good. I decided to try Safeway’s home delivery service recently. I searched their site for natural peanut butter. I got a few national brands. I picked one at random. Skippy. It says natural. I assume it’ll be what I want, and good enough until I can hit Trader Joe’s. Looking at Skippy’s website now, they claim it has no preservatives, artificial flavours, or artificial colours. Sounds good to me. The order came, I read the label, and the four-letter words flew.
The ingredients are roasted peanuts, sugar, palm oil, and salt. Sugar?? And palm oil? That doesn’t even come from a peanut. Palm oil is high in saturated fat, and has been found to promote heart disease. How is that “natural peanut butter”? I also recently saw an exposé on the news. Palm oil is surrounded in controversy because of how it’s farmed and how the workers are treated. Holy cats! Natural? I’m insulted.
The Target Audience
One of two things has to be going on here.
- Possibility #1: Skippy doesn’t understand what natural peanut butter is. Well, maybe. I hope they will all go on field trips to Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s to find out!
- Possibility #2: Skippy feels that their target audience likes to see the word “natural” on the label, but then won’t read the rest of the label to see what’s really going on inside. I was only guilty of that because I was ordering online. In the stores, I read every label.
Assuming the reality here is #2, that says a lot about human behaviour. It says we want to feel like we’re doing the right thing by purchasing “natural” products, but we don’t take the extra step to check that we’re getting what we’re promised. That means that manufacturers can and will continue to slip things by people who are only paying a fraction of the attention they think they are.
I’m sure the parents buying this “natural” PB thinks they are giving their kids something better. The difference between Skippy Creamy PB and Skippy Natural Creamy PB? The regular version has hydrogenated vegetable oils while the “natural” substitutes palm oil. You’re still giving yourself or your kids plenty of sugar and unhealthy oils.
I challenge manufacturers to be more honest in their labeling. I challenge consumers to be smarter and more thorough. Just because you can get something by someone doesn’t mean you should.